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A radical and inspiring call

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Jesus' life is an example of radical love and humility. Born at the margins and dying at the margins, Jesus challenged us all in his greatest commandment, "Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another" (John 13:34).

Michael
Reardon

As Advent concludes with the Nativity of our Lord, our waiting is over, and we celebrate the light of Christ entering the world. Christ did not join us in a clap of thunder and sudden appearance but through the miracle of birth. This profound human experience of Jesus captures my imagination and inspires our work at the Catholic Schools Foundation.

Jesus was not born into a rich and powerful family but instead was born in a stable among the animals before fleeing Herod as a refugee in Egypt. From the moment he came among us, he was with the marginalized, and he returned to his Father crucified between two thieves. These are powerful and humble bookends to a very real life.

Regardless of one's belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, there is little doubt about his existence in history. He was born like us, lived like us, struggled like us, and experienced a human death. His parents, Mary and Joseph, experienced the anxiety and joy of birth while faithfully responding to God's call. In the story of the Nativity, we celebrate the joy of Christ coming among us, and it is an opportunity to reflect on this humble and real moment. It is a time to ask how the life of Jesus can inform our own lives and actions.

Jesus' life is an example of radical love and humility. Born at the margins and dying at the margins, Jesus challenged us all in his greatest commandment, "Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another" (John 13:34).

Regardless of faith tradition, Jesus calls us to love and care for those at the margins, those born into human circumstances like him, a poor refugee, and who died like him, as a criminal executed by the state. Reflecting on the lived experience and person of Jesus is a clarion call to see others for their intrinsic worth as children of God and treat them with love. This is radical and inspiring.

Reaching out to the margins inspires Catholic Schools Foundation Board member Rick Henken. Although not Catholic, Rick sees the direct impact Catholic schools have on students living in challenging circumstances. This has inspired him to lead and support this work for almost two decades. Rick sees children and families at the margins move forward in life through access to a quality Catholic education, forming them with the values, skills, knowledge and discipline necessary to become the next generation of competent, thoughtful leaders our world desperately needs.

This Christmas season, many families we serve continue to struggle. Catholic education is a stabilizing force in their world, and the faculty and staff of these schools who put students first is an example of how to manage schools safely during this pandemic. As Gov. Baker said at a recent press conference, "We have one of the best active demonstrations about in-person learning going on anywhere right now, which is parochial schools."

Catholic schools need support to continue to serve our Church and our community. Inspired by the extraordinary efforts of the faculty, staff and administrators of Catholic Schools, Rick Henken has offered to increase his already generous support and match every new and increased dollar raised from now until Dec. 31, 2020, up to $50,000. Please help us meet this challenge and support Catholic education and those at the margins. You can make a gift online at csfboston.org/donate.

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us reflect on his humanity -- remembering that God chose to share his son with us not as a king, but as a poor child, a refugee without a home, who lived among those at the margins.

Merry Christmas!

- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.



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